Dr. Paul Offit explains multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and why it has become less of a concern two years into the COVID-19 pandemic.
Is MIS-C after COVID-19 going away?
Paul Offit, MD: Hi, my name is Paul Offit. I'm talking to you today from the Vaccine Education Center at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. It's Thursday, December 1st, 2022. One question that parents have especially is, what do we know about this so-called MIS-C, which just stands for multisystem inflammatory disease of children.
It's an unusual syndrome. I certainly have never seen this syndrome associated with viral infections, but it's certainly happening here. So, what happens is, typically, children between 5 and 13 years of age, sort of average being about 9 years of age, will have a trivial infection with COVID. They may have an asymptomatic infection. They may have a mild infection, a short-lived illness that just happens to be picked up because they were, they were in contact with a friend or family member who had COVID. Then they get better, and a month later they come back to the emergency department, to their doctor, with high fever, with evidence of pneumonia, liver disease, lung disease, kidney disease. It's a pretty serious illness. There's been about 9,000 cases of MIS-C reported in the United States up to this point. There's been a little more than 70 children who have died of this particular problem, MIS-C.
The good news is it seems to be fading. Once we hit this January of 2022, once we hit earlier this year and the omicron variant came in, the so-called BA.1 variant, and now all of the omicron subvariants, those variants appear to be less virulent. Frankly, less capable of causing pneumonia and serious pneumonia in children, and adults, and also less capable of causing MIS-C.
So, we may start to see MIS-C being on the way out. Time will tell. But it is a serious consequence, this sort of post-infectious inflammatory consequence of the virus, but hopefully as these strains continue to get less virulent, we may see the beginning or the end of MIS-C.
Now, although these strain, omicron and the omicron subvariants are less virulent, they're not avirulent, so they still can cause suffering and hospitalization and death, which is why it's still important to be vaccinated.
Related Centers and Programs: Vaccine Education Center
Last Reviewed on Dec 16, 2022